Unpacking a Bad Review (“Evil Sandstone Price”)

Once in a while, one of our apps gets a bad user review on iTunes. It happens, even for the best apps1. For apps with a high average rating, I don’t think an occasional bad review is a big worry but I’ll admit it still feels bad. Take for example, a review for one of our apps from earlier this week. Here’s an excerpt and its translation:

ESCROCS !!!!
Arnaque!!!! L’applis est vide mal grès le prix , une fois dans le menu magasin il faut faire un rachat in app

CROOKS !!!!
Scam !!!! The apps is empty evil sandstone price, once in the store menu must make an in app purchase2

This isn’t true—you can safely ignore all IAPs forever and the app will happily continue doing its thing (and the sandstone levels in our app are just fine, thank you very much). But the user didn’t realize this and ended up really disappointed. The complaint is off-base, but the underlying concern may not be.

My guess is that the user wasn’t able to access some of their tracks and thought the app didn’t work as advertised. Maybe they didn’t catch our notes in the app description and in-app messages (the app can’t support cloud/protected tracks, unfortunately3). So, they tried to load up one of their cloud tracks and weren’t able to. That sucks, and I’ll definitely take some responsibility for this.

Because a user’s misunderstanding is often just an app’s miscommunication.

If they end up being the only person to complain, it’ll be tempting to write it off as “too rare to care.” But I think the underlying user concerns may prove valid: a) people want to use their cloud/protected tracks (maybe that’s all they have on their device), b) for at least one of those people, our communication re: this limitation isn’t clear enough. File this one under Feature Type 1. Got your own bad review story? Please share in the comments!


1Here’s an excerpt from a pretty off-base review for Deliveries

User review for Deliveries

And one more for the awesome language-learning app, DuoLingo:

User review for DuoLingo

2Please blame Google Translate for any mistranslation. :)

3It’s an annoying but understandable Apple limitation. We’d love to add this functionality.

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